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EARLY START

Senate GOP In Deal Making Mode; Trump Cracks About 'Pocahontas' At Navajo Event; The Free Press Strikes Back; Prince Harry Knew Markle Was "The One." Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 28, 2017 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:32:14] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Republican Brass looking to clear up big hurdles today with their tax plan. Can leadership give certain senators what they want without losing support elsewhere?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A stunning remark from the president in front of Native American heroes. The racially insensitive crack once again creates a controversy that distracts from President Trump's political agenda.

BRIGGS: And a real coup by a real news organization. An activist posing as a rape victim could strengthen the case for an accused child molester. Let that sink in. "The Washington Post" refusing to fall for the scam and turns the tables on the activist group.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 33 minutes past the hour.

Let's begin with politics though, this morning. Republican leadership in dealmaking mode as the party tries desperately to pass a tax bill. The Senate Budget Committee meets to consider this measure this afternoon.

The face a problem. Nearly a dozen Republican senators have voiced concern with the proposal and two of them, Ron Johnson and Bob Corker, are among the 12 Republicans on the Budget Committee.

Now, if GOP leaders cannot bring Johnson and Corker on board they may choose to postpone today's vote to avoid a public failure.

BRIGGS: To that end, President Trump will join Republican senators for lunch today, right before that Budget Committee meeting, satisfying all the Republicans' concerns with the tax bill. Potentially, a very heavy lift and they have only $80 billion to work with to stay below the $1.5 trillion deficit target that would allow them to pass this bill without a single Democratic vote.

ROMANS: And, Republican leadership facing this struggle, answering concerns of some members without losing support of others.

Two major concerns here, the deficit and the fate of pass-through businesses. The latter worries senators Ron Johnson and Steve Daines. Both want bigger tax cuts for so-called pass-through entities. Pass- throughs can be small businesses or large firms with many employees, but all pay taxes through the individual rate, not the corporate rate.

Now, the Senate bill allows pass-throughs to deduct 17.4 percent from their taxable income, but there's a problem. It means the highest earners pay more than the proposed 20 percent corporate rate.

Senator Johnson says this favors corporations over small business. He wants to increase the deduction but that will cost money -- serious money -- and it runs counter to what the deficit hawks want.

The deficit is the difference between how much the government takes in and how much it spends, and the current Senate bill adds $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.

The GOP says economic growth will pay for the plan eventually, but Sen. Bob Corker, among others, worries that might not happen. He wants to include a provision to raise taxes if revenue falls short. So far, independent estimates show the bill does not hit the GOP's aggressive growth targets.

[05:35:14] So let's bring in CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer. He is a historian and professor at Princeton University. Good morning, again.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR, "THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW": Good morning.

ROMANS: So when you look at who has expressed concerns, and who the wild cards are, and the kinds of things that are packed in here -- do you repeal the individual mandate of Obamacare, do you not? Do you fix this pass-through problem to appease Ron Johnson? And, the optics of whether this is a middle-class tax cut, as the president says it is, or corporate tax cut, which reality says it is. This is a hard sell.

ZELIZER: You can't resolve all of these concerns. It's almost impossible. So I think you might see efforts to get senators Johnson and Daines over with some kind of better tax provision for the pass- throughs.

And then, ultimately, the Republicans have to convince deficit hawks it's important for the party to live with the deficit and let's move forward with this legislation, and it's attractive to corporations who are important in the Republican constituency. And that's the argument the administration is hoping to use.

BRIGGS: Yes. It will be interesting to see how the president makes that sales push. This is who we are as Republicans -- tax cut central to who we are.

Hopefully, he makes the case better than he did in honoring Navajo code talkers. That's what he was attempting to do yesterday when the president, standing beneath a portrait of Andrew Jackson, said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.

But you know what? I like you because you are special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Andrew Jackson, of course, central to pushing out 15,000 Native Americans, more than 3,000 of whom died.

I can't decide if this is the president standing in front of CIA headquarters talking about crowd size, or this is the president targeting Judge Curiel, the Mexican judge who, by the way, is from Indiana, or is it both?

ZELIZER: We don't know. For many people it is the latter because he's said this consistently. He's come under criticism for using the term and yet, he still does it. And here, he did it at a very choreographed, high-profile event.

But this is what makes Republicans very nervous on the Hill. Here, they're all trying to figure out a tax bill and this is what he chooses to do. So I think this is one of his great vulnerabilities, even if his supporters love -- some of his supporters love this kind of rhetoric.

ROMANS: I didn't coin this but yesterday I saw a lot of people on Twitter talking about how this is the president who essentially took a knee in front of American veterans yesterday.

ZELIZER: That's a -- I think that's a very good point. It's an astute way to look at this and for many people, it's just an insulting moment. Native American or otherwise, this is not what a president should be doing and it's part of the ongoing story of the Trump presidency. These kinds of terms, these kinds of ideas coming from the Oval Office.

BRIGGS: All right, stick around. We want to ask you about the other narrative the president's pushing, that of fake news because "The Washington Post" says it was the target of a sting operation apparently run by the conservative activist group Project Veritas.

The "Post" reports a woman approached it weeks ago falsely claiming that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore impregnated her in 1992 when she was 15, which then led her to have an abortion.

ROMANS: In a series of interviews, the "Post" says she repeatedly pressed reporters for their opinions. She kept asking them for assurances that by revealing her alleged experience with Moore it would help end his campaign. Now, "Post" reporters confronted the woman with inconsistencies in her story and she started to waffle.

BRIGGS: The woman insisted she was not working with any group that targets journalists. But on Monday morning, "Washington Post" reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas which has a history of using deception to attack mainstream media organizations, including CNN.

ROMANS: In a tactic that should seem familiar to Veritas founder James O'Keefe, "The Washington Post" confronted him on the street asking if he knew the woman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Jaimie Phillips work for Project Veritas? Did you guys send her to speak to -- pose as a victim of Roy Moore to "The Washington Post?"

JAMES O'KEEFE, FOUNDER, PROJECT VERITAS: I'm 15 minutes late for this thing, so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

O'KEEFE: -- I got to -- I got to run. But I will -- we will get in touch with you, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Late Monday, O'Keefe did post undercover videos purporting to expose "The Washington Post" hidden agenda, but the undercover conversations with the "Post" national security reporter contained no damaging revelations. CNN has not verified the authenticity of the videos.

You are a professor at Princeton, we remind our viewers.

The president repeatedly attacking the free press, including this organization, and CNN International whose reporters risk their life on a daily basis. Yesterday, tweeting about the fake news trophy which clearly goes to Project Veritas.

[05:40:04] How important is this in the United States?

ZELIZER: It's essential. Having a strong and vibrant press is the core, in many ways, of our democracy. It holds leaders accountable. It gives us information about what's going on overseas and here in the United States. And it offers a mechanism, as we say, to speak truth to power.

So to have the President of the United States continually attack the free press, down to organizations like O'Keefe, which are consciously trying to undercut the legitimacy, can have long-term effects.

There's a lot of the country that now doesn't believe what they hear from the news and that's a dangerous thing. You can argue with what you hear on the news, you can debate what you hear on the news, but to simply dismiss the legitimacy of much of the media is a dangerous development.

ROMANS: Debate is so healthy, you know. A healthy debate in a democracy is so important but we are at a moment here when you have a women who is falsely claiming to be an abuse victim to undermine other abuse victims. I mean, that is --

BRIGGS: And strengthen the case of an accused child molester.

ROMANS: It's remarkable.

ZELIZER: Right. We're on the cusp of an election where the candidate for the Republican Party has now faced multiple allegations of sexual assault, molestation -- just horrendous issues. And here, you have an outlet trying to undercut what has been coming out in very legitimate news stories -- checked news stories, careful news stories -- and that is not the way we want to conduct our democracy.

BRIGGS: And another thing "The Washington Post" does fact-check is the president's statements. Sixteen hundred twenty-eight false or misleading statements in his first 298 days in office.

Julian Zelizer, thanks for being here this morning. We appreciate it.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

OK, so let's talk about something that's happy. What does --

BRIGGS: Love.

ROMANS: With Harry.

BRIGGS: We need a little love.

ROMANS: I'm sorry. What does he think his mother, Princess Diana, would have said about his engagement?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRINCE HARRY: With the ring and with everything else that's going on, I'm sure she's --

MEGHAN MARKLE, FIANCE OF PRINCE HARRY: She's with us.

PRINCE HARRY: I'm sure she's with us, yes, and jumping up and down somewhere else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: What a love story. Harry and Meghan Markle discuss the pros and cons of their upcoming spring wedding, next. What will I wear?

BRIGGS: That coat. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:38] BRIGGS: The Justice Department urging a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit that seeks to block President Trump's pick for acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Justice officials claim the lawsuit filed by Leandra English grossly misstates the status quo.

English is Richard Cordray's handpicked successor at the CFPB. Cordray, an Obama appointee, resigned as director last week.

ROMANS: White House Budget Chief Mick Mulvaney is President Trump's pick to run the financial watchdog agency. He and Leandra English both showed up for work on Monday. Both sent e-mails to bureau staffers, signed "acting director."

English, offering here appreciation to the employees. Mulvaney ordering everyone to disregard her instructions.

Despite past harsh comments -- very harsh comments about the agency, Mulvaney says don't be alarmed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, TRUMP-APPOINTED CHIEF, CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: This agency will stay open. Rumors that I'm going to set the place on fire, or blow it up, or lock the doors are completely false.

I'm a member of the Executive Branch of government. We intend to execute the laws of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Mulvaney also declaring an immediate 30-day freeze on hiring and all new rules, regulations, and guidance. So not burning the place down but freezing it, it looks like.

BRIGGS: Well, Richard Cordray will be on "NEW DAY" today and he'll have a lot to talk about.

Time for a look at what else is coming up on "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo.

ROMANS: Hello, Chris.

BRIGGS: Anthony Scaramucci back with you, Chris. Excited for that.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The mooch.

BRIGGS: The mooch.

CUOMO: What do you got for mooch, Dave? What should I ask him? Christine, you tell me.

BRIGGS: Well, I'd like to hear what's going on at his alma mater there. A little lawsuit going on. CUOMO: You talking about Tufts? He had a --

BRIGGS: Yes.

CUOMO: He had a little drama with the student newspaper. All right, I'll check that box. What else?

BRIGGS: But really, his analysis of the current press secretary. That's what I'd love to hear. Hear him grade her out.

What do you for him?

CUOMO: Straight grade. I like it. I'll use it. Will not footnote you.

Christine, what do you got?

ROMANS: I wouldn't do that, Chris (ph). I defer to you. You are the master of the good questions.

CUOMO: You're the one who writes the books, lady. And you were right about the sales. You also gave artificial incentive to my daughter to go online and shop. I want you to know that.

ROMANS: Yes, really?

CUOMO: I said didn't you hear the whole part about 50 percent is just the beginning of the analysis? Didn't you hear about how they're trying to steal your money and these are all bad? She was like no, I didn't hear any of that part. I just went on and bought it.

ROMANS: Dad.

CUOMO: So that was great. We're going to take another look at little bit at the business side and hopefully, we're going to get your help on that.

We are going to talk to Anthony Scaramucci. The mooch is back. What does he think about this?

You know, one of the things that Anthony got credit for rightly when he went in there is he wanted to reintroduce candor, bring the media back in, bring testing back in. Bring that public forum back into government.

He believed that the fight against the press was wrong. How does he feel now? We'll take that on.

Also, we're going to talk about taxes today because this bill is coming to a head. It's going to be voted on in the Senate Committee today.

There's a proposition that's out there. Who do you want to have more money in their pocket, the government or you? That's pretty appealing, right? Who's going to say I want the government to have more money? You'd have to have a really specific thought process to get to that conclusion.

But that's not really the issue now, is it? It's which people do want to have more money in their pockets. So we'll take a look at the numbers today.

Dave, Christine, always a pleasure --

ROMANS: You, too.

CUOMO: -- although Dave makes me feel bad about myself because he's so damn handsome.

BRIGGS: Oh, wow. Chris Cuomo, you're the man.

And, you know, how about Scaramucci? How would a comms director feel about putting the president beneath a portrait of Andrew Jackson --

[05:50:00] CUOMO: Oh.

BRIGGS: -- as he talked about Navajo code talkers.

CUOMO: Bad optics. Now, bad optics. We will talk about it but I get it, right?

Now, the mistake they made was what -- was location of the event. The Oval Office -- they put the Jackson photo in there. Why? Because that man of the people persona is something that appeals to this new brand of populism of the president.

But who thought about having this event there? Who made that step of analysis? Obviously, no one.

BRIGGS: It should be a good show, my friend. We'll see you in a bit.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Chris. See you soon.

All right. It is official, as Chris said. Cyber Monday had the largest online sales day in history. So much did we all spend? We'll fill you in on "CNN Money Stream," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:55:08] BRIGGS: Five fifty-five eastern time, and finally time for a little bit of love in this world.

Prince Harry revealing when he knew actress Meghan Markle was the one. In their first post-engagement interview, the couple opened up about whether they plan to have kids right after saying I do.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin live at Buckingham Palace. Let me just say, Erin, thank you. The world needs a little love this morning.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dave, and people here are so excited for this couple. And really, that excitement is reflected in the morning headline here in the U.K. Let me just show you some of them. Here is "The Sun" with the headline "She's the One." And then we have "The Daily Mail" with the headline "The Stars Were All Aligned. This Beautiful Woman Just Fell Into My Life." How romantic is that?

But, you know, the media here hasn't always been this kind to this couple. There has been scrutiny, specifically about Meghan Markle's background as a divorced actress from California. Also shockingly, scrutiny of her ethnicity as well, and that is something that she addressed in a wide-ranging interview that happened yesterday. Take a listen to what she had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARKLE: Of course, it's disheartening, you know. It's a shame that that is the climate in this world to focus that much on that or that would be discriminatory in that sense. But I think, you know, at the end of day I'm really just proud of who I am and where I come from.

And we have never put any focus on that. We've just focused on who we are as a couple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: It also has to be said that Meghan Markle's background is part of what makes people so excited about this couple. They really do see this as a modern day fairytale here in the United Kingdom.

Now, in that same interview they discussed a range of topics, including the proposal. How Harry got down on one knee. Meghan said yes right away.

They also talked about the ring. Diamonds from the ring were sourced from the late Princess Diana's own personal collection. Prince Harry talked about that, saying that Princess Diana would have absolutely adored Meghan.

Back to you.

BRIGGS: A biracial divorcee, American actress welcomed into the royal family. They've come a long way.

Erin McLaughlin live for us in London -- thanks.

ROMANS: All right, 57 minutes past the hour.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets are mixed right now after Wall Street ended, well, flat. Yesterday was a good day, though, for retail stocks, especially the online retailers.

Look at Amazon. It crossed $1,200 a share for the very first time. Closed just below that. It is at more than 60 percent this year.

Online sales hit record highs on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a strong start to the holiday shopping season. Today, Wall Street is watching Jerome Powell's nomination hearing.

Who is he? He is the president's nominee for Federal Reserve chair.

Also, looking for any movement on tax reform. The Senate is set to vote this week.

The president encouraged Republican senators in a tweet to "give us the much needed tax cuts." The president also cheered strong new home sales and more stock market gains.

It is true the economy is doing very well right now and it happening on Trump's watch. It is also true these trends began before he became president.

It is official. Cyber Monday, the largest U.S. online sales day in history. Americans spent $6.6 billion online yesterday. That's according to Adobe who tracks online shopping. It's also a billion dollars more than last year.

This year, online sales were made on tablets and smartphones, not just on desktop. In fact, you know, Americans made $1.6 billion in purchases on their phone. It's never happened before.

Adobe predicts this holiday shopping season is on track to be -- wow, $100 billion in online sales.

BRIGGS: Wow.

ROMANS: Remarkable. That has really been -- it's just been the mood. The consumer mood is very, very good right now.

BRIGGS: I was very busy on Amazon on my phone yesterday --

ROMANS: I bet you were.

BRIGGS: -- as was my wife.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Republican senators scrambling to shore up support for their bill ahead of a crucial committee vote.

TRUMP: I think the tax bill is doing very well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the bill currently stands, I'd be a no vote.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sausage-making is never fun but all senators are looking to try to get the yes on the Republican side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The con job's on middle-classes. TRUMP: We have a representative in Congress. They call her Pocahontas.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: President Trump couldn't even make it through a ceremony to honor these men without throwing in a racial slur.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been a very strong friend of Native Americans since he's been in office.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, AUTHOR, "BEYOND THE MESSY TRUTH": This was their day and he crapped all over it being an insult comic, and I feel so sorry for those guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.